A lasting legacy

Honorable. Decent. Capable.

Those are just a few of the terms that have been used to describe former President George H.W. Bush since he died Friday. The son of a senator, he began his own service to our nation at age 18, when he joined the U.S. Navy in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Navy’s youngest aviator, he attacked Japanese installations in the Pacific and was shot down but survived.

Following the war, he first became a businessman and then a politician. He served as a congressman, senator, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, head of the U.S. Liaison Office in China and director of the CIA – all before his two terms as vice president.

Bush was elected president in 1988 and was the nation’s chief executive from 1989-1993. In the White House, he was criticized for what some perceived as his inattention to domestic affairs and for breaking his now-famous campaign promise: “Read my lips: no new taxes.”

Some believe he ended the first Gulf War, in 1991, prematurely. He should have ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, critics say.

But Bush was the last president who was also a veteran of wartime service in the military. He knew what war really meant. It is difficult to be too critical of someone who just wanted the killing to stop.

Our 41st president left a legacy of a kinder, gentler nation fully capable of using an iron fist. He also left a political legacy in the form of two sons who have played key roles in out country’s leadership. He became the first president since John Adams to have a son, George W. Bush, also win the presidency. And son Jeb served as the 43rd governor of Florida.

Bush was 94 when he joined his beloved wife, Barbara, who died earlier this year. He will be laid to rest Thursday at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in Texas. His burial follows a national day of mourning today that will see world leaders and U.S. presidents past and present attend his funeral at the National Cathedral.

As people across the nation and around the globe say goodbye to a man who helped shape the world we live in today, we hope you will join us in extending thoughts and prayers to the Bush family.